WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he's sorry Americans are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep under his signature health care law. But the president stopped short of apologizing for making those promises in the first place.
"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.
He added: "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."
The president's apology comes as the White House tries to combat a cascade of troubles surrounding the rollout of the health care law often referred to as "Obamacare." The healthcare.gov website that was supposed to be an easy portal for Americans to purchase insurance has been riddled by technical issues. And with at least 3.5 million Americans receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies, there's new scrutiny aimed at the way the president tried to sell the law to the public in the first place.
Much of the focus is on the president's promise that Americans who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it. He repeated the line often, both as the bill was debated in Congress and after it was signed into law.
But the measure itself made that promise almost impossible to keep. It mandated that insurance coverage must meet certain standards and that policies that fell short could no longer be sold except through a grandfathering process, meaning some policies were always expected to disappear.
The White House says under those guidelines, fewer than 5 percent of Americans will have to change their coverage. But in a nation of more than 300 million people, 5 percent is about 15 million people.